§ 1. Mr. McQuarrie
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to ensure that persons occupying houses built by housing associations who wish to purchase their houses under the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act will be able to do so at district valuers' valuation.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Ancram)
Where a housing association disposes of a house to a sitting tenant under the existing voluntary arrangements, the market value of the house already falls to be determined by the district valuer.
§ Mr. McQuarrie
With respect to my hon. Friend, that is not a satisfactory answer. Should not people who are in housing association houses have the same right as council tenants to purchase their houses, because the building of those houses was funded by public money? They should not be in a disadvantageous position compared with council tenants.
§ Mr. Ancram
I am sorry that my original answer was unsatisfactory, but I answered the question that my hon. Friend asked me. I shall now attempt to answer his second question.
I agree with my hon. Friend that where public money has been used to build the houses the tenants should be able to buy their houses at a discount. As my hon. Friend knows, that right was excluded from the original tenants' rights legislation because of the nature of the housing associations at that time. A voluntary code of sales was introduced instead. I have been concerned for some time that that voluntary code is not operating satisfactorily, and I have now asked the Housing Corporation to require all associations which have not confirmed their willingness to sell to their tenants with discounts to reconsider their policies.
§ Mr. Eadie
Surely the Minister must be aware that if the test of the district valuer's figures is applied to housing associations the taxpayer—and, of course, the tenant—may suffer.
The Minister must be aware of the situation at Newtongrange, where there is a crying need for redeveloped housing, and where a housing association was compelled, on the district valuer's figure, to give the Lothian estate £210,000 because the owner had the good fortune to inherit buildings and lands when the lease from the National Coal Board expired. Is that not to some extent a robbers' paradise?
§ Mr. Ancram
I find the implications of the hon. Gentleman's question concerning the district valuer's 296 judgment rather strange, because, as I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. McQuarrie) in answer to the original question—and in an answer on the same point concerning Newtongrange at the last Scottish Question Time — the district valuer made a valuation, and I believe that valuation to be proper.